What would you pay to be able to see the unseeable? Or, to be more accurate, what would you pay to POSSIBLY be able to see the unseeable?
People have been seeking the consultation of psychics, fortune-tellers, soothsayers, and clairvoyants since the beginning of civilization. It was customary for kings to have a psychic available at all times for advice on various issues, and the local priest often acted as a seer for their flock. Astrology is a science (or pseudoscience, depending on one’s perspective) that dates back to antiquity.
According to a market research report from IBISWorld, it was estimated that the Psychic Services Industry took in $2.1 billion in revenue in 2012, with millions of people still calling “900” numbers for advice and accessing psychics online, and many others seeking in-person readings from brick and mortar psychics.
But, what if instead of having to rely on a psychic, one could be their own psychic? Over the last 15 years or so, a new industry has popped up that claims to offer an alternative of sorts- it is a practice called “remote viewing,” and its roots trace back to previously classified, government-funded research programs from the early 1970’s to mid 1990’s.
“Remote viewing” is a term that was coined by parapsychology research pioneers and physicists Russell Targ and Harold Puthoff, while they were conducting E.S.P. (Extra Sensory Perception) research at the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) in the 1970’s. Remote viewing, loosely defined, is the controlled process of gaining information about a distant or unseen target using paranormal means. Remote viewers, through a series protocols and structured techniques, psychically gather a series of impressions, feelings and sensations that ultimately can provide information about a designated target.
Targ and Puthoff used the term to differentiate their research and the development of these techniques and protocols from clairvoyance, in general. Clairvoyance had been studied by researchers since the 19th century, and J.B. Rhine undertook serious study of the phenomena during the middle 20th century at Duke University’s Parapsychology Laboratory, which he founded in 1930, and the Institute for Parapsychology, which he founded in 1965 and still exists today as the Rhine Research Center Institute for Parapsychology.
After testing famous psychic Ingo Swann at SRI and producing positive results, Targ and Puthoff caught the interest of officials from the C.I.A., which led to the creation and funding of a C.I.A. sponsored remote viewing program in 1972. John N. McMahon, then Head of the Office of Technical Service and later the C.I.A. Deputy Director, was a strong supporter of the program. The hope was that remote viewing research would lead to the development of proven techniques and reliable remote viewers that could help provide otherwise unobtainable intelligence. During the Cold War era, both the United States and the USSR funded various types of paranormal research in pursuit of any edge they could get on their enemies.
In the mid 1970’s, control of the project, which would later be known as “Project Stargate,” was shifted from the C.I.A. to the Air Force, and from then on would be over seen by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), which is the sector of the Department of Defense that coordinates the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force intelligence components. In 1979, the Army developed its own remote viewing program with SRI on the orders of General Ed Thompson, then the Army’s Chief Intelligence Officer, and would work in coordination with C.I.A. operations officers who would task SRI’s subjects with targets.
Project Stargate continued on throughout the 1980’s, fine-tuning remote viewing techniques and protocols and developing the skills of its cast of remote viewers. Pat Price and Joseph McMoneagle, who received a Legion of Merit award in 1984 for his remote viewing work, were some of the more notable subjects of the Project.
In the early 1990’s, Army Colonel William Johnson was appointed by the DIA to manage the remote viewing unit and determine its objective usefulness in obtaining actionable intelligence. Funding for the Project dissipated in late 1994, and was transferred back to the C.I.A. in 1995.
The C.I.A. then hired the American Institutes of Research (AIR) to perform a retrospective evaluation of the results generated by the Stargate Project. However, AIR reviewers Ray Hyman and Jessica Utts came to different conclusions: Utts claimed that the research showed a statistically significant positive effect, with some remote viewing subjects scoring above chance (5-15%), while Hyman reported that the results needed to be replicated independently, and further investigation would be necessary to prove the effectiveness of remote viewing and the existence of E.S.P., in general. Both recommended a higher level of critical research and tighter experimental protocols. Shortly thereafter, the C.I.A. terminated the $20 million a year project, ending Project Stargate after 23 years and bringing remote viewing research into the private sector. There is debate as to whether the findings of the AIR report or less publicized internal politics and personality conflicts led to the cancellation of the program.
While details about the different parapsychology projects run by the DIA leaked out occasionally in the news media, such as in articles published by The New York Times in 1984 and Reuters in 1985, and were more closely described in books such as Russell Targ and Keith Harary’s The Mind Race and Ronald M. McCrae’s Mind Wars, remote viewing would enter the public consciousness on a greater level after the program was cancelled and officially declassified .
Through the post-Stargate work of Targ and Puthoff, as well as other individuals involved with the project, such as Stephan A. Schwartz, Major Ed Dames, and Ingo Swann, information about remote viewing is readily available to those who seek it out. Jon Ronson’s 2004 book, The Men Who Stare at Goats, and its follow-up film adaptation from 2006, examine the U.S. Army’s exploration of New Age concepts and their potential military applications, and helped bring the concept of remote viewing into the pop culture mainstream.
The public, understandably fascinated by remote viewing, created demand for more information on the subject, and subsequently, remote viewing training courses and products appeared on the market. An overview of today’s remote viewing industry shows that there may be many ways to skin a cat, but they’re all pretty expensive. Several remote viewing experts of varying qualifications offer multi-day workshops/seminars and remote viewing products, promising to teach the art of remote viewing to anyone who is interested and has the cash.
Dr. Paul H. Smith, who became a Project Stargate subject as an Army intelligence officer in the early 1980’s, offers 40-hour courses out of Austin, Texas in CRV, or “controlled remote viewing.” The courses sometimes feature Harold Puthoff as a guest speaker, and, according to Smith’s website rviewer.com, offer a 2:1 student-instructor ratio. Smith’s Basic CRV, Intermediate CRV, and Advanced CRV courses are offered for $2000 per course, or $2700 per course with individualized instruction. His 3-day Associate Remote Viewing classes are available for $775.
David Morehouse, also a former participant in Project Stargate, offers seminars of varying lengths and cost out of Las Vegas through his website davidmorehouse.com. From October 5-10 he is offering a Learn Remote Viewing seminar, which costs $1395 at the full rate, $1195 for early bird signups, and $495 for previous attendees. Morehouse is also offering a 3-day seminar from October 12-14 in Las Vegas called The Journey Inward, which costs $895 at the full price, and $695 for early bird sign-ups.
Major Ed Dames, who served as a training and operations officer in Project Stargate and is a frequent guest on the nationally-syndicated radio show, Coast to Coast AM, regularly offers 2-day Remote Viewing Training workshops out of Reno and Las Vegas. The workshops cost $595 for beginning viewers and $695 for advanced viewers, and can be signed up for on his website, learnrv.com.
Other remote viewing experts, some originating from Project Stargate and some not, also offer remote viewing training courses. Dane Spotts, of PSI Tech, Inc. and remoteviewingtraining.com, offers a 4-day course called Technical Remote Viewing out of Seattle, London, and Barcelona for $3500, or $3000 for early bird sign-ups. Angela Thompson-Smith, PhD of mindwiseconsulting.com offers a 5-day seminar out of Boulder City, NV for $1500, and Skype-based individual instruction for $50/hr. Dr. Simeon Hein, of mountbaldy.com, offers 3-day courses for $995 called Resonant Viewing 101 and also offers a $1500, 5-week live online course called Virtual Viewing. Former Project Stargate subject Lyn Buchanan also offers services, but no prices are listed on her website crviewer.com.
If one is interested in learning remote viewing, but can’t afford such prices, they can also go the route of DVD or CD based courses. Major Ed Dames offers his 4 DVD course Learn Remote Viewing for $299 from his website learnrv.com. Gerald O’Donnell, of The Academy of Remote Viewing and Remote Influencing (ARVARI) and probablefuture.com, offers his The Complete Remote Viewing Training System DVD course for $147, his The Complete Remote Influencing Training System DVD course for $177, or a combination package for $297. Stephen A. Schwartz, former Director of Research for the Rhine Research Center, through stephenaschwartz.com, offers his basic 10 DVD course Remote Viewing Through Time and Space for 149.95, and The Gold Standard Course for $242.95 ($218.85 in its digital version). David Morehouse offers a 21-CD, 22-hour course called The Remote Viewing Training Course, which currently sells at amazon.com for $389.89. Dane Spotts and PSI Tech, Inc. also offer online alternatives to their $3500 seminars. Other, more specialized remote viewing products are also available on the internet, claiming to aid one in activities such as betting on sports and playing the lottery.
Based on information listed on their websites, most of the aforementioned instructors don’t offer any kind of guarantee for their seminars, workshops, services or products. However, many of them suggest that remote viewing can be used to greatly enhance one’s personal life and professional life in various ways. David Morehouse suggests on his website that remote viewing can help anyone who wants to “progress along a spiritual path,” “develop their intuition,” and “reach their full potential.” According to Dane Spotts and PSI Tech, Inc, “Technical Remote Viewing” can be used to “make money,” “for medical cures and discoveries,” to gain insight on “unsolved mysteries,” and see things “that aren’t even visible on Earth.” According to Major Ed Dames’ website, remote viewing can be used to “improve your health, secure you financially, and empower you with important future knowledge.” In contrast with their colleagues, Gerald O’Donnell offers a 60-day, no-risk, money-back guarantee for his Complete Remote Viewing and Complete Remote Influencing DVD courses, and Dr. Simeon Hein also offers an unconditional, 60-day, money-back guarantee for his Virtual Viewing online course, though no guarantee regarding his Resonant Viewing 101 workshops is listed on his website, mountbaldy.com.
Recently, Courtney Brown of The Farsight Institute, a non-profit, remote viewing research organization, posted an 18-hour remote viewing course free on youtube.com, in response to complaints he had heard regarding the high prices of remote viewing courses. Brown says he produced the free youtube.com course so people could get an introduction to remote viewing and develop a working methodology before investing money in more advanced work and expensive seminars.
Debate continues as to the effectiveness of remote viewing techniques. Some researchers think remote viewing is completely without merit, while others think that evidence exists showing remote viewing can be effective and useful. However, even the researchers who think remote viewing can be effective and useful don’t necessarily think that just anyone can be a successful remote viewer; in fact, most evidence in support of remote viewing shows that remote viewing is mostly successful when applied by those who already possess psychic abilities. Regardless of how intrigued one might be by remote viewing, or how psychic one thinks they might be, it might be best to check out Courtney Brown’s free youtube.com course before spending thousands of dollars on what might be a fruitless endeavor.